Russia Follows China’s Lead

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One of the newest members of the World Trade Organization, Russia is already being accused of utilizing protectionist measures by the European Union. The EU has mentioned a ban on imports of live animals and a recycling fee on imported vehicles as specific violations. Following the example set by nations like China, Russia is demonstrating that it will not play the trade game fairly, even in light of WTO membership.

In order to achieve WTO acceptance, nations are required to meet certain regulations to open their markets up to foreign exports — but as we have seen with China, many countries choose to ignore such requirements once they’ve gained membership. This typically leaves the U.S. on the cold end of the trade balance.

Whether or not Russia will continue to abide an open market policy is purely speculation. But their individual decision there isn’t really the point. So many other members of the WTO choose not to abide by its rules that almost makes little sense to continue playing fair. Amidst a bureaucratic panel of squabbling leaders, the WTO has seen little justice in trade since its birth in 1995. Who can blame a nation for protecting itself in the harsh competition of world trade, especially when disciplinary measures lack so much enforcement?

The game is being played with this level of etiquette, or lack thereof, by most every economically prosperous country in the world right now. Germany and China are thriving for a reason, and it has very little to do with their compliance to WTO guidelines. They employ measures within to make sure that the homegrown industries of those nations prosper above all others. It isn’t about protectionism — it’s about common sense. And the United States is standing by idly, with the naïve ideology that free trade will fix things eventually.

The problem is that the U.S. lacks any sort of plan to preserve domestic production. Free trade has become more about big business and multi-national corporations than about a national state of well-being. A lack of assertiveness from a leadership perspective has left economic decision-making at the mercy of wealthy lobbyists, and they are cashing in. But even worse, this has created a political front that lacks the fortitude to take a stand on anything. So when the WTO makes a ruling that cripples America’s ability to succeed, Uncle Sam walks away with his tail between his legs. Meanwhile, China is standing defiantly on the brink of global economic domination.

When Russia attained WTO fellowship, they had a choice to make: would they rather emulate the obedient and softening carriage of the U.S., which has mired us in the swamp of recession? Or would they choose the routes of China and Germany, standing firm with a commitment to their own business and their own success, in spite of a corrupt WTO? It seems clear now that they have opted for the latter.

The United States also has a decision to make: does operating the country the way we are currently really make sense in the conversation of reform? Has the WTO and its imposed restrictions truly done anything to promote the economic well-being of the American people and the nation as a whole? We cannot make Russia’s decisions for them, so we are only left to make our own. These decisions may inexorably impact the America that our children inherit, so it is important that we make them wisely. Even more so, it is important that we don’t allow the WTO to make them for us.

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